Lot 1
  • 1

Tomma Abts

25,000 - 35,000 GBP
118,750 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Tomma Abts
  • Zaarke
  • signed, titled and dated 2000 on the stretcher
  • oil and acrylic on canvas


Greengrassi Gallery, London

Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2004

Catalogue Note

Turner Prize winning artist Tomma Abts is something of a contemporary art world anathema. In an era dedicated to the oversize and fabricated by the studio hand, Abts’ has quietly forged a different path - one that speaks profoundly to the intimacy of the artistic process. An encounter with her works is a chance for reflection, a reaffirmation that in art world ruled by speed, 3D mapping and digital inkjet, there is little substitute for the unhurried honing of one’s skill – rendered with little more than one’s imagination and a paint brush.

Her subtle canvases are conversations – between colours, between shapes and most importantly between herself and the ever evolving canvas in front of her. Interviewed for the Turner Prize, she explained, “I start with nothing really… I make no sketches before I start painting. I paint directly onto the canvas” (Tomma Abts in conversation with Jan Vorwoert in: Tate, Untitled, 2006, video, 0:53). Each canvas is, therefore, the organic process of trial and error, built up over multiple layers and many sittings. Working on more than one work at a time, canvases can take years of reflection to complete. There is only one rule that Abt’s brings to her practice: size. Each canvas is consistently sized at 48 by 38 centimetres. By continually returning to the same artistic arena, her focus centres much more strongly on the space inside the canvas. Like a scientist keeping a constant, it forces experimentation. For the viewer, it allows us to single-mindedly focus our attention on her creative process. 

 In Zaarke, Abt’s paintbrush carves out jagged bands of colour that seem violent, almost aggressive if it wasn’t for their delicacy. Rendered in deep hues of maroon and red, they form painterly incisions into the depth of the canvas that play with our sense of perception while drawing attention to inherent flatness of painting. Shapes are overlapped and intertwined, oscillating between foreground and background. Like a chessboard, this complex constellation of shapes and colours organically changes as she works. It is in this status of flux that the works acquires its energy, and more, its mystery.